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Old 09-09-2012, 02:46 PM   #1
wilma-bride
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Fred and Wilma - 'The Keys' to 'The World' - Day 7

Saturday 18th August – Back on the Road Again

Today, we are on the move again - this time right across the state to St Augustine, on the east coast. Gary and I had visited St Augustine for one night, in August 2010, and loved it so much we couldn’t wait to go back again. It really is the most beautiful place, with so much history (for an American city)

The day started badly, from a weather point-of-view, and it really didn’t get that much better. It was a good day to be stuck in the car, although I’m glad I didn’t have to drive. We loaded the car, in between heavy downpours, checked out and were on the road by 9am. Once on the I-75, we ran into more rain and then, just outside Tampa, we drove into a huge thunderstorm, which more or less followed us to St Augustine.

I don’t like the look of that



Told you so



Once we were on the I4, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting a Cracker Barrel before, it is the most fascinating place. The shop itself (or Old Country Store, to use its proper name) could hold my attention for hours. However, the highlight of a Cracker Barrel (in my opinion) is its magnificent breakfasts.

Whenever we’ve visited Cracker Barrel before, it’s been early in the morning but still fairly busy. This place, however, was absolutely heaving! It was a bit sad not being here with our friends and I made a comment to Gary how I wished (not for the first time this holiday) that they were here. To make up for still feeling cheated from dinner the night before, Daniel and I ordered BIG!

For Daniel, it was Momma’s Pancake Breakfast - Three Buttermilk Pancakes and Two eggs cooked to order with your choice of any fruit topping or 100% pure natural syrup, served with smoked sausage patties, turkey sausage patties or thick-sliced bacon. Daniel chose eggs over-easy and bacon, with apple topping for his pancakes.

This is one big breakfast



I chose Momma’s French Toast Breakfast, which was basically the same as Daniel’s but with french toast instead of pancakes and scrambled eggs, instead of fried.

A breakfast so big it comes in two parts





Gary opted for the slightly (but not much) smaller option of pecan pancakes.

Nutty pancakes



The check came to $30.65. We left the tip on the table and went through to the store to use the restrooms and pay the check at the till. After a quick look around, it was back on the road. It was raining pretty much constantly and, as we hit Orlando, there were loads of road works. Traffic was stop-start all the way past Disney and I was a little bit sad to be heading past and not stopping, although I had no real desire to get out of the car in this weather.

Hello, goodbye



As we reached the exit for I-Drive, I suddenly realised I was desperate to go to the bathroom so Gary made an ‘emergency stop’ at McDonalds, then we took a detour up International Drive and universal Boulevard, rejoining the I4 after the roadworks. As we hit Downtown Orlando, there was a flash of blue sky and the world seemed brighter again.

Mr Blue Sky





It was a fairly boring drive, with lots of long, straight road. At one point, Gary and I played I-Spy but, after we’d exhausted the five options of road, car, truck, sky and grass, it was game over.

Eventually, we saw the sign for our exit and things were looking up again.

St Augustine, here we come



We finally arrived at The Old Jail, St Augustine, at 2.30 in the afternoon.

Daniel meets Gator Bob



We had pre-purchased the ‘Maximo’ package from the Trolley Tours website. It included a 3-day ticket for the trolley, entrance to The Old Jail, The Oldest Store Museum Experience, St Augustine History Museum and the Alligator Farm. We exchanged our voucher here and got all of our tickets for the various attractions. Since we were here and could not check into our hotel until 4pm, we decided to take the tour of The Old Jail. Daniel hadn’t done this before but Gary and I both had. It was very entertaining, despite having experienced it before. There were only five of us on the tour so it felt a lot more personal too.

A pink jail?



Daniel and the Sheriff



The Birdcage



You’re under arrest!



We are not amused



Laughing stock!



After the tour, we drove down to the Hilton to check in. The Hilton, St Augustine is like no other Hilton you have ever seen. Although a modern-day structure, it was designed to blend in with the Spanish Colonial style buildings that surround it. Inside, it is a mixture of modern fittings and historical style. It really is very beautiful.

Lobby lounge area



We were allocated Room 234, which was a standard room with 2 queens. The room was very big and very beautifully decorated. I loved the ornate headboards.

Room 234



We had a view of a courtyard from our room, however if I leaned right out and looked all the way to the right, I could just see the bayfront.

Courtyard



With a bayfront view (sort of)



The only downsides to the hotel are that there is no self-parking, only valet. At $21 per night, it is pretty steep, however we knew that coming in. The pool is also small, although it has an amazing view of the bayfront and the Bridge of Lions.

Is that a pool or a bathtub?



A pool with a view





Continued in the next post...

Last edited by wilma-bride; 09-09-2012 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 02:49 PM   #2
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We quickly got settled and made an executive decision not to unpack, since we were only here for 2 nights, so we headed out to explore. The hotel is very centrally located and a very short walk from St George Street, the main shopping and dining area of St Augustine old town. We wandered down St George Street and decided that we would eat at Florida Cracker Café tonight as I had a voucher from restaurant.com. We bought a couple of drinks from the Spanish bakery, a diet coke for Gary and I and a blue raspberry slush for Daniel. The blue slush may have been a mistake, though, as it made him look like he’d been eating Smurfs!

St George Street





Slush



Smurf breath!



The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse



Old City Gates





For the Teachers out there



We went back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. I picked up the voucher and we walked back down to St George Street.

The back of the hotel



Florida Cracker Café



This restaurant has mixed reviews on Tripadvisor but Gary and I had been keen to eat here last time we’d visited and it had been closed. With that in mind, I had searched restaurant.com before our visit and managed to get a voucher for $25 off, which cost me $2.

In a surprise change from the norm, Daniel and I ordered the spicy calamari for appetiser. It was absolutely delicious, perfectly cooked and with just the right amount of spice. It really was the most delicious calamari I’ve ever eaten. It was at this point that I realised that Daniel and I are perfect calamari-eating partners. Daniel commented that there were tentacles as well as rings and that he loved the tentacles. As I don’t really like the tentacles it worked out perfectly.

Spicy squid



Gary ordered the cornbread, which was a little more disappointing. It was slightly soggy but nice and sweet, which is how we like it.

Mini cornbread



Daniel had originally wanted to try the Gator tail that was listed on the menu but they were out of Gator this evening. So he decided to have the kids fried shrimp.

It was quite a small portion but just the right size for Daniel (especially since he ate most of the calamari).

Shrimp for a shrimp



Gary ordered the meatloaf for his entrée. He said it was nice, although he’d never tried meatloaf before so didn’t have anything to compare it to.

Meatloaf



I was the awkward one tonight. Despite having really liked the look of the menu, I just couldn’t decide what to have. Eventually, I decided on the fresh catch sandwich. The fish was tilapia, which I’d had once before and thought I liked. In reality, though, I was either misremembering or this was different as it was a bit watery and quite fishy. I thought it tasted faintly of washing-up liquid too, although Gary tasted it and said that it was because the fish was so fresh.

Fish sandwich



All in all, the food was hit and miss. The calamari was so great that the rest of it just paled into insignificance, I think. My sandwich was nice but I think I should have ordered something different. I really wanted the scallops but have only had them once before so wasn’t sure. I should have just gone with my instinct, instead of trying to play it safe. We decided to skip dessert, in favour of getting ice cream from the Whetstone chocolate store. The check came to $54.90, including an 18% tip (automatically added because of the voucher, I think). After the voucher was deducted, it came to $29.90, which was pretty good value. We left a bit extra for our server and went out onto St George Street.

There was a very different atmosphere this evening to when we’d last visited, on a Monday night. Mondays in St Augustine are quiet, with a lot of restaurants and shops closing early or not opening at all. Tonight, everything was open and there were lots of people milling about. There are several places along St George Street to get ice-cream so, of course, we had to visit each and every one to compare the choices. I stuck with my original choice (spotted earlier in the day), the Key Lime Pie Gelato from the Whetstone Chocolate Store.

Nom nom



It was absolutely delicious, light and creamy with a hint of graham cracker and the tartness of Key Lime. Just perfect.

After much to-ing and fro-ing, Gary and Daniel finally made their choices.

Rainbow Sherbet in a waffle cone, for Gary



Mint Choc Chip in a ‘cake’ cone for Daniel



What creased me up is that Daniel always will choose Mint Choc Chip if it’s an option and, although it was an option in all three places, he insisted on going right back to the first one to get it. I don’t know where he gets his awkwardness from (ahem – Gary – ahem)!

Continued in the next post...
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Old 09-09-2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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It was a beautiful evening, nice and warm and not too humid. We walked down St George Street and across to the Castillo de San Marcos. The sun was just going down and it was glorious looking across the bay.

Castillo de San Marco



Trick shot



My gorgeous boy



Say cheese!



Beautiful St Augustine bay



The bay and the lighthouse



Daniel really wanted to take a ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages, so we sent him to find out how much it was. It was $40 for 20 minutes, which wasn’t too bad so, after dropping our stuff in the hotel room and picking up some cash, Daniel chose his carriage and off we went. It was really lovely, very relaxing and a great way to see the city. A perfect end to a lovely day.

Dudes



Scarlett O’Haras



Flagler College



Our horse and driver



After a few more pictures along the bayfront, it was time to head home.

The Castillo de San Marcos sign



Is it bedtime yet?



Back in the hotel, we tried to watch television but we couldn’t get the cable to work properly. After a phone call to reception, a lovely guy called Trevor came to our rescue. He was a member of the concierge team and his family was originally from England so we had a nice chat while he reset our cable box. He finally got it working and Daniel watched the Disney Channel for a while, before settling down to sleep. Gary watched Gnomeo and Juliet on his touchpad and I read my Kindle for a while and then we gave in to tiredness too.
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:24 PM   #4
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I think you've got the year wrong in post 1.

Sounds like a really great day bar the morning rain.
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chilly View Post
I think you've got the year wrong in post 1.

Sounds like a really great day bar the morning rain.
Thanks Claire, I've edited it now. Was a lovely day
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:38 PM   #6
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Great day, we love St, Augustine too.

We missed you guys and would have loved to have joined you for breakfast.
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:58 PM   #7
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Joh, what a lovely day. We loved St Augustine too and I definitely want to go back for longer next time.
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Old 09-10-2012, 07:15 AM   #8
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What a fascinating place! You're making our future Florida plans very complicated Joh!

Loved the look of the breakfast! Not sure I could have eaten again for a couple of days after that though!

Great pics, excellent report, as per.. - thank you!

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Old 09-10-2012, 04:52 PM   #9
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Another lovely day Joh

How long did Daniel's mouth stay blue for
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:50 AM   #10
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We absolutely loved St Augustine when we visited there last year. We ate in Scarlett O' Haras so nice to see that and we spent a lot of time on St George St in all the quirky shops. The bay is truly beautiful and you have captured some beautiful photos. I so want to go back after seeing this post
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:53 PM   #11
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Lovely day, I like the list of dos and don't for teachers very funny. Not sure I fancy a fish burger you were very brave to try that one.
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:26 PM   #12
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That's quite a drive and not much fun at the best of times, but the rain must have made it even harder to endure.

We had an abortive attempt at staying in St Augustine in 2005 and, despite threats, have yet to make it there. The Hilton is fab! They've done a great job at making it old-style. I love it. The view over the marina is gorgeous, too. Reminds me of St Pete's.

The rules for teachers make the mind boggle. I don't even know where to start!

The calamari looks truly divine. It's not something I'd usually order because it can so often be disappointing. The cornbread isn't a patch on yours. It's all rather pasty looking, not to mention slimy! Gary's never tried meatloaf? I would have had that down as one of your staples. I'll have to let you have my recipe. I'm not a fan of breaded and fried food, but the tilapia actually looks quite appetising. Shame you weren't keen. Key Lime gelato, though? Yes, please!

Love the trick shot and the photos perfectly capture the evening light. It all looks blissful. Scarlet O'Hara's looks like my kind of place (no comments needed!).
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:08 PM   #13
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Key lime pie gelato? I might need to visit all these places just so I can emulate your 'key lime crawl'.
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Old 09-13-2012, 04:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonaldDoleWhip View Post
Key lime pie gelato? I might need to visit all these places just so I can emulate your 'key lime crawl'.
I agree! I am really late to this party and starting backwards but I had to pop in to say that that gelato looks amazing! We went to a Ben & Jerry's shop several years ago and they had lemon meringue pie ice cream that had bits of pie crust in it. I still salivate about that ice cream. Seems like this gelato would have done a bit to quelch that craving!
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:21 PM   #15
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Hey Joh!
Just been catching up with your TR, we just landed back this afternoon so of course I am wide awake a 20 past midnight!
Great photos and it looks like you had a wonderful holiday
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